Almost 14 months after fracturing his right front ankle, Brass Hat made good on his rehab and the faith of his owner and trainer with a 2 1/2-length victory in the $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes Saturday at Turfway Park. "I had tears in my eyes watching him come back," said trainer William "Buff" Bradley, his voice catching as he watched the replay. Bradley's father, Fred Bradley, is the breeder and owner of Brass Hat, a 4-year-old Prized gelding.
Brass Hat, who broke his maiden in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park in March 2004, followed that 38-1 payoff with wins in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) at 21-1 and the Indiana Derby at 10-1 odds. He was vanned off following the Lone Star Derby in October 2004, the result of a condylar fracture.
"He was in the stall for four months," said Buff Bradley. "We gave him an extra two months beyond what the veterinarian said – we wanted to make sure everything was good. We put him on the Equicizer, and he walked on the Equicizer for an hour and a half a day."
The Prairie Bayou was Brass Hat's second race back. He started his comeback with a seventh-place finish in an allowance race at Churchill in November.
"We knew he was going to need that race," Bradley continued. "He has been training very well here, and we thought he would run big today. He has come from last to first to win but he won last year here on the old track right on the front end, so he's not a one-dimensional horse. He can run wherever he needs to run."
Brass Hat got a perfect ride from jockey Willie Martinez, who kept him an easy third as the early pace bounced from Northern Shade to Discreet Hero. As the field turned for home, Brass Hat came to the leaders and moved confidently ahead to claim the win. On the Border moved up from mid-pack to take second; the coupled entry of Discreet Hero and Paging finished a half length back in a dead heat for third.
The fourth choice at 9-2, Brass Hat finished the 1 1/8-mile Prairie Bayou in 1:52.50 and paid $11.40. His fourth win 11 career starts was worth $31,300, increasing his earnings to $655,730.
Completing the order of finish were Scipion, Gift of the Eagle, Collateral Damage, Gallo Del Bar, It's No Joke, and Northern Shade. Bavarian Baron scratched.